Suraj Ramnath and Ashwini Gangal

Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?

In an ad campaign that promotes its latest range of air-conditioners, Onida introduces a new mascot - God.

"Let there be chill!", says Onida in its latest air-conditioner commercial. That it resembles the Biblical line 'Let there be light' is no coincidence. Onida's brand new mascot is God, the conceptual and visual polar opposite of its famous mascot from the yesteryears - the Devil.

The campaign has been created by Zero:Zero Creative Solutions, a creative agency.

Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?
Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?

In 2009, Onida dropped its then two-decade-old Devil mascot and accompanying tagline 'Neighbour's Envy, Owner's Pride', originally created by an agency called Advertising Avenues. The campaign that ensued at the time targetted the contemporary, urban couple; it was created by McCann Erickson. Down the line, however, the brand brought the Devil back.

Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?
Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?

About the current campaign, Kaushik Roy, partner, Zero:Zero Creative Solutions, says, "...While we're staying with the thought of pride (the current tagline is 'Owner's Pride'), we've decided to move from envy to benevolence. We're treating this as the resurrection of brand Onida."

Says Kumar Subramaniam, partner, Zero:Zero Creative Solutions, "...While the creative challenge was to carry forward the brand's disruptive tone and personality, we attempted to create a personality that could be cool, techy and loving. The line 'Let there be chill' captures the core benefit of Onida ACs in an authoritative tone."

Dubbing the new mascot a 'bionic man', Nitin Navalkar, chief, marketing communications, Mirc Electronics, (the parent company of Onida), tells afaqs!, "We wanted a character who represents Onida in a very hi-tech, futuristic, innovative manner. This is not God; it's a play on that. We wanted to get consumers to talk about it. We wanted them to think - 'Is this God?', 'Is this the Devil in a new avatar?'... and that's precisely what's been happening."

The media mix includes TV, print, and outdoor platforms.

Does the strategy work?

We asked a few brand strategy experts to review Onida's efforts. Onida's Devil has a fair amount of recall value. If an agency is tasked with resurrecting this brand, isn't it a no-brainer to simply bring the Devil back in all his glory?

Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?
Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?
Who promotes Onida better - Devil or God?

Prateek Srivastava, co-founder, Chapter Five Brand Solutions, an advertising agency, says, "It (the new mascot) does break the clutter, but looks gimmicky and old-fashioned in its execution. Also, unlike the 'Devil', which was built on a sound insight, this one doesn't seem to have anything the consumer will connect with. The Devil was a great idea back then; in comparison, the God avatar doesn't seem to be that great an idea. But, the solution doesn't lie in bringing the Devil back."

Nor does it lie in bringing the old tagline back, he insists. Why so? "The Devil is dead and cannot be resurrected. Envy is not an emotion that works with today's consumer. The best brands and products are all available to us, and affordability is taken care of by e-commerce players. Nobody envies their neighbour anymore," explains Srivastava.

Saji Abraham, executive director, Lowe Lintas, says, "It's an interesting change in strategy. Perhaps, there was some research questioning the longevity of mascots, the extent of their appeal to millennials and whether envy is still worth pursuing as a strategy. The team probably wanted to talk about the brand's merits and personify the brand... hence, the 'God' approach."

He adds, "It's an interesting approach, but unfortunately, poorly executed. 'God' has become boring while the Devil was hugely entertaining. 'God' preaches.... who wants that? Had they shown the Devil having a change of heart, it might have been in an interesting space. But, to take the Devil and make him God is a bit much. A 180-degree change in your brand mascot, and in some way your brand philosophy, leaves the brand halfway there. Much like the new baseline 'Owner's Pride'... it's incomplete without the 'Neighbour's Envy' bit."

Suman Srivastava, vice-chairman and chief strategy officer, FCB Ulka, says, "The Devil idea worked in an era when Onida made TVs that everyone drooled over. Now that the products do not evoke envy, the Devil does not work as a brand idea. Hence, it is wise to let it go. Clearly, the brand needed another idea."

So, does the God idea work, then? He answers, "I don't think that the brand has a compelling message to give. It's trying to be all things to all people. This 'God' is a creative device to make the statement, but I don't think this will be remembered for too long. It's just another film that tries to work hard and will have mixed results."

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